Great stuff here Sean – thanks for all of these insights and sharing some best practices when it comes to affiliate marketing. I’ve never been comfortable giving it a shot, but after reading this post and your perspective on how and when to do it, I may just have to give it a try. Especially considering I’m already mentioning and recommending services and products on my site, I’m just not getting the potential rewards associated with doing so. Thanks again.
What I love about affiliate marketing is it is so easy to get started! You don’t have to have a huge audience and you don’t have to spend hundreds or thousands of hours creating your own products. Plus, for a lot of people, it is a natural fit. Think of how many times a month you refer a friend to a great place to eat, a life-saving toy, or your favorite new mascara. If you are already doing that, chances are you will rock at affiliate marketing.
What you should do is consider products and services that would help your readers the most and pass over the trust you have in those companies. Consider the products and services you already use in your niche, and see if they have affiliate programs by searching for “[product/service name] affiliate program” or search for it on their websites by adding “/?s=affiliate program” to the end of their URLs.
After reading all the benefits of affiliate marketing if you think you will be rich over night by selling affiliate products online then you are wrong. Affiliate marketing is definitely an excellent way to make money online but it’s highly competitive too. In order to be successful in Affiliate marketing you need to know the market needs, learn how to promote products, what works and what doesn’t. The following are a few tricks on becoming successful in affiliate marketing that I have learnt over time.
I’ve learned so much with this course! KC Tan is an excellent instructor. He covers all the bases. Also, his facebook group and email list have both been a great value for me. I’ve made money using this method, and I’m hoping to start making even more by learning list building details in another of his courses that I just started. So glad I came across his courses. – Maya Brown
CharlesNgo.com – Charles Ngo, a well-known and respected Internet marketer, shares affiliate marketing strategies that help people work smarter, not harder. His blog posts cover how to launch an affiliate marketing campaign, why offers aren’t converting, how to get things done in a distracted world and much more. He suggests the best books to read on the subject and provides his own advanced training called the AFFcelerator Program.
Focus on reviewing products that fall within your niche. Then, leveraging the rapport you have created with your audience and your stance as an expert, tell your readers why they would benefit from purchasing the product you are promoting. It is especially effective to compare this product to others in the same category. Most importantly, make sure you are generating detailed, articulate content to improve conversions.
One great traffic driver for me has been my new Travel Resources page. I put it up less than a month ago, created some pretty pins for it and it has done superbly well on StumbleUpon and Pinterest (racking up over 1.5k repins). This boost in traffic has helped substantially increase my conversions for Amazon, which was not a huge earner for me before. So, traffic + affiliate links = happy money dance.
Theme – you don’t need a special theme for affiliate marketing, you probably just need a blog. I recommend StudioPress themes since that’s what Yoast, Matt Cutts (from Google), and I use. Matt Mullenweg, founder of WordPress also recommends them. One of the biggest mistakes I made was using a theme from Themeforest… since they’re built by independent developers who may stop making updates to their theme. This happened to me and I hear horror stories all the time about people having to switch themes and redesign their entire site. I’ve been using the same StudioPress theme (Outreach Pro) for 3 years. Their themes are lightweight (load fast), SEO-friendly via optimized code, secure, and they have a huge selection of plugins for the Genesis Framework and an awesome community in the Genesis WordPress Facebook Group. They include documentation for setting it up and will serve you for many, many years.

I was able to make my first online dollars through Amazon Affiliate sales… It was never much and in the beginning I was just excited to make $10 in a month, which was enough for a free ebook or two. With regular updates and link inclusions in my posts over time I was able to grow the number up to like $300 a month–which I was pretty happy with. Of course the payout rates are paltry compared to a sale of an info product like one from Unconventional Guides, etc. Thing is, people seem to be more open to purchasing physical products rather than information products…

This can be as simple as adding a single disclaimer at the top of a blog post in which you’re sharing affiliate links. I’ve had people tell me it feels odd to tell visitors that you’re making money from an action they’re taking, and I get it, but the truth is this: it doesn’t cost those visitors anything to use your link (beyond the cost of the product), and once you help them, they’ll often look for ways to help you in return. And providing affiliate links is an easy way to let them do that, at no extra cost to them!
ZacJohnson.com – Zac Johnson’s blog contains more than 1,000 articles based on real-life experiences that exemplify lessons from the affiliate marketing industry. In recent posts, he gives tips on staying relevant, transitioning with a changing market to maintain a steady income flow and being successful in the travel marketing niche. Johnson’s blog also contains links to his recommended resources for marketers.
Like them or hate them, hashtags make a difference. They improve the discoverability of posts and drive likes and comments. The key point here is relevance. Use the hashtags that correspond to your niche. Carry out research and pay attention to the tags your competitors use in their posts. Incorporate some branded hashtags to raise awareness, like the name of the promoted product or any other related tag. Let your creativity flow. Instagram allows to use up to 30 hashtags per post, but be careful not to go overboard. The optimal number of hashtags for maximum engagement is 11.
The best way to obtain website traffic is through free search engine referrals. However, obtaining traffic from the search engines takes time. You should expect to create content for your site for about 6 to 12 months before the search engines really start showing you some love. In the meantime, there are so many other places you can obtain website traffic from. That’s what these tutorial videos will show you. Everything form creating email marketing lists to social media marketing and even how to write a blog post to increase how many people share it – it’s all there. This is the best tutorial section to go through first because it will lead to returns sooner.
URL masking: Often, you’ll find that affiliate links are a real, million character eyesore. It’s likely that your links will look like Merchant.com/dlfjlfjlfjdskljdfgimmeallyourmoneyalajdlkaf2131032klfjfdjldsjf. And let’s be honest, few people are going to want to click on that. URL masking is therefore when you create a prettier, cleaner “vanity URL” that makes your links more clickable. Some people use bit.ly, which has tracking purposes, or the WordPress Plugin Pretty Link.
Outsourcing is so crucially important because that is how you will take your affiliate marketing business from just a small business that makes you a few extra bucks per month to a 5 or 6 figure monster that earns you a passive income. While one site is being outsourced and making you money, you can build a second one. While those two are outsourced and making you money, you can build a third one, and so on. So many new affiliate marketers take their first commission checks and just spend in on themselves. If they re-invested that into outsourcing instead, the returns would be much bigger. My business didn’t truly start taking off until I learned about the power of outsourcing.
It will probably take a couple years to build a sustainable, passive income. That is the 1st car I have EVER purchased myself at age 29 (I was broke until then and leased from my parents). But the time committed to affiliate marketing and creating great tutorials and YouTube videos was worth it… I work for myself, there is virtually no limit on how much I can make, my schedule is flexible, and I collect enough passive income to live how I want.
There are dozens of affiliate marketing tools we can recommend to you, but we’re going to stick to three. The first is Pretty Links. It’s a free WordPress plugin that also comes in a premium version. It allows you to cloak long, unappealing affiliate links with your own custom “pretty links,” such as “yourdomain.com/go/audible/.” It also provides a shortcut in the WordPress editor, which you can use to add affiliate links to posts on the fly.
Career blogger Amanda Formaro of AmandasCookin’ says “the Amazon affiliate program is a terrific fit for new bloggers, but it’s important to understand that Amazon only pays you when your readers make purchases.” Formaro emphasizes that Amazon doesn’t pay affiliates for simply listing products or ads on their site. “Amazon affiliates don’t earn money for sending visitors to Amazon or the number of Amazon ad impressions that appear on an affiliate’s website,” says Formaro. “It’s all about the sale.”
If you’re going to sign up for any of their premium services, I personally recommend you sign up for this business building package. Basically, you are paying their experts to go out and perform market research, build a website for you, build you an email responder that will automatically email your subscribers for one year, and create the first handful of content pages. They will also help you research the best affiliate products to promote and give you access to special one-on-one coaching that is only available for their paying members. Check it out if you have the funding to get this type of jump start. Outsourcing from day 1 is ideal if you have the funds available, especially when you are outsourcing to a team of people managed by affiliate marketing millionaires.
Hi Tim! I’ve talked to Amazon about this as well, as have many other bloggers I know personally. Each one of us is getting different answers. It’s VERY frustrating. Many have been told as long as their Pinterest account is listed in their profile, it’s fine. For those that haven’t, I’ve pointed out during my calls to Amazon that you can pin Amazon affiliate products directly to Pinterest from the rewardStyle interface, so it’s silly for them to tell anyone that they can’t do it directly from their Amazon Associates account. But of course, with Amazon giving different bloggers different answers, you have to do what you are comfortable with. Or, if in doubt, pin Amazon products via rewardStyle if you are a member 🙂 Hope that helps.
Don’t forget to post your affiliate pins to your OWN personal boards! When I share my affiliate pins, I start with my own relevant boards because they’re better optimized for SEO than my group boards. I carefully write my board descriptions to optimize them for keywords. Technically speaking, you don’t even need to share pins to group boards if you have well-optimized personal boards with high repin rates. The advantage of group boards is that they help you expand your reach.
PS.Since I’m a big advocate of Clickbank affiliate marketing but I have include Shareasale marketplace instead of Clickbank here. Just because, I have tried many times to promote some products from both of the networks and each time found success with Shareasale affiliate links. Pinterest did not allow to embed an affiliate link from Clickbank. (It is might be because of the nature of Clickbank Hoplinks)
I’ve learned so much with this course! KC Tan is an excellent instructor. He covers all the bases. Also, his facebook group and email list have both been a great value for me. I’ve made money using this method, and I’m hoping to start making even more by learning list building details in another of his courses that I just started. So glad I came across his courses. – Maya Brown
A common issue with Instagram influencers is finding a way to get customers to click on affiliate links. It’s common to see captions include “link in the bio,” but this is an extra step that sometimes customers don’t take. Thus, there could be sales that came from this influencer that they’re not getting credit for. This is bad for the influencer because they’re losing out on commissions and this is bad for the brand because you’re not able to properly track the success of their campaigns. This is where forced exclusive unique coupon codes come in.
Don’t exhaust all the information about the product with your link. Offer enough information to your readers so they know what the link is, but I don’t recommend giving too much detail on your own site for a two reasons. First, product information, like price, often changes. If you mention the price on your site and someone clicks over and finds a different price, it’s confusing. Second, many times, the product details and features are better explained by the makers of the product. It’s best to stick to your own experience on your site.
Mistake #5: Promoting a lot of affiliate products instead of just a few. Once you start affiliate marketing, you realize how easy it is to share affiliate links. Instead of becoming an affiliate for a lot of different products and sharing them liberally, I recommend concentrating on just a few and sharing them intentionally. It doesn’t seem as spammy, plus you can be sure the products you do promote are closely aligned with your brand and message. Deep is better than wide.
This might sound like a given, but it looks better if you can do your own photo shoot in your own style - it goes back to the word of mouth marketing. If you are the one wearing the product or have styled the picture yourself, it is more genuine and more likely to lead to a sale. @victoriama9 is a great example of this - it’s clear in the images that it’s her wearing the outfits and not a photo from the brand.
While there are many different affiliate programs out there, I've put together this list of programs that I'm currently approved for and use for Pinterest affiliate marketing.  I do also have two blogs, but when I applied to most of these, I specifically listed Pinterest as my “website” and specified that Pinterest would be my primary marketing channel.  A few of them declined me, however, I called/emailed to inquire why.  Once they understood why I didn't list a blog, they went ahead and approved me.  If you apply and get denied – don't get discouraged!  Send them an email or call them and find out exactly why.  Also, be sure to review the TOS (terms of service) to see if Pinterest is an allowable platform for promoting their content.  And remember, what you pin isn't about what YOU like or want!  You have to really keep tabs on your analytics to find out what your AUDIENCE is wanting more of and find affiliate programs for those products!
Think of it this way – if you were about to open a restaurant, wouldn’t you do some research before quitting your day job and investing hundreds of thousands of dollars into it? Of course you would! You would research the best location, the best type of food to serve, how much you’ll have to pay employees, where you’ll source ingredients from, what type of tables and furniture to use, the best ovens and equipment for the kitchen, and all sorts of stuff. If you just “wing it” and open a restaurant without doing any research first, you’ll most likely fail. While affiliate marketing can be started part-time and without much capital, the same holds true. If you don’t research and plan, you will fail.
Google Autocomplete – go to google.com, start typing a phrase and look at the dropdown autocomplete results. You can use the underscore character “_” to have Google fill-in-the-blank. Just make sure the last character you type is an underscore. Try using plurals and change the word ordering to see different results. This is how I find 90% of my keywords.
I am so delighted to have my friend Tasha from Designer Trapped in a Lawyer’s Body here today to talk a little bit about blogging strategy– and more specifically, monetizing your blog! Tasha is my go-to source any time I have questions about using affiliate sales as an income stream for my site, and I know you will find the information she has to share incredibly helpful as well. I’ll let her take it from here!
Since the emergence of affiliate marketing, there has been little control over affiliate activity. Unscrupulous affiliates have used spam, false advertising, forced clicks (to get tracking cookies set on users' computers), adware, and other methods to drive traffic to their sponsors. Although many affiliate programs have terms of service that contain rules against spam, this marketing method has historically proven to attract abuse from spammers.
A browser extension is a plug-in that extends the functionality of a web browser. Some extensions are authored using web technologies such as HTML, JavaScript, and CSS. Most modern web browsers have a whole slew of third-party extensions available for download. In recent years, there has been a constant rise in the number of malicious browser extensions flooding the web. Malicious browser extensions will often appear to be legitimate as they seem to originate from vendor websites and come with glowing customer reviews.[32] In the case of affiliate marketing, these malicious extensions are often used to redirect a user’s browser to send fake clicks to websites that are supposedly part of legitimate affiliate marketing programs. Typically, users are completely unaware this is happening other than their browser performance slowing down. Websites end up paying for fake traffic number, and users are unwitting participants in these ad schemes.

One big pro to Tradedoubler is that they track the user through cookies, even if the user has turned cookies off. For example, most affiliate programs track users through cookies. If a user clicks your link and goes to a website, but doesn’t make a purchase, they will be tracked for a period of days (usually 30 days). If within those 30 days they come back and make a purchase, you earn your commission.
Don’t set a goal to write 3 blog posts a day… set a goal to write 1 blog post a week and make that post super helpful, long, and filled with information that is so valuable you will say “yeah, people will link to that.” 90% of my traffic/affiliate income comes from just 20 tutorials, many of which are 5+ years old. But I am constantly updating them to make the content better.
In February 2000, Amazon announced that it had been granted a patent[18] on components of an affiliate program. The patent application was submitted in June 1997, which predates most affiliate programs, but not PC Flowers & Gifts.com (October 1994), AutoWeb.com (October 1995), Kbkids.com/BrainPlay.com (January 1996), EPage (April 1996), and several others.[13]

Many marketers use automated email and drip sequences to introduce affiliate products and services to their subscribers. I use an auto-response sequence through MailerLite, a top-rated email marketing service and a fantastic alternative to MailChimp. You could send new subscribers three to five automated emails over a period of weeks/months and include affiliate links where applicable. Additionally, many marketers using landing page builders like Leadpages to convert subscribers and sales.


Amazon is known for sometimes coming down hard on sellers, affiliates, and other partners who don’t follow the rules. This is maybe the other big downside of being an Amazon affiliate—Amazon is big enough to boss you around if you step out of line, and there’s usually not much you can do about it. I’ve heard stories of affiliates having their accounts closed without any chance for recourse or appeal when they went against one of Amazon’s affiliate policies.
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which took effect on May 25, 2018, is a set of regulations governing the use of personal data across the EU. This is forcing some affiliates to obtain user data through opt-in consent (updated privacy policies and cookie notices), even if they are not located in the European Union. This new regulation should also remind you to follow FTC guidelines and clearly disclose that you receive affiliate commissions from your recommendations. 
What are the terms of the program? Is there anything I need to be aware of that would make a program not worth it for me. For example, Amazon Associates does not allow you to put your affiliate links in emails. If your main method of communication with your audience is via email, Amazon might not be a good fit for you. Wayfair, for example, does not allow their affiliates to post affiliate links on Pinterest or any other social media site. If that’s a strategy you rely on, Wayfair might not be a good fit for you.
If instant gratification is your thing, affiliate marketing will make you want to run into a wall. Even after you surpass the threshold needed to “cash out”, there’s usually a waiting period before your commission is confirmed/approved, simply because they allow time for people to return goods if needed. So yes, affiliate marketing is by no means a fast track to cash.

Affiliate marketing is when you promote other people’s products and services, earning a small cut of the revenue for every resulting sale made. It’s incredibly popular, with 81% of surveyed brands using affiliate marketing in one study. And the benefits of tapping into this market are numerous. It’s a largely passive income stream, for example, and has a low barrier to entry.
You may have read my recent chat with a Pinterest expert, McKinzie Bean, where she shares tips to crush affiliate marketing on Pinterest without a blog. Now, we’re going to get into the specifics. This post will show you the exact step-by-step process to create pins with viral potential, write keyword-rich pin descriptions, and promote them on Pinterest. Let’s get started!
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